How many people have taken an audio or multimedia tour? Did they enjoy their experience?
* Has this ever happened to you taking an audio tour? Expresses the aim of interpretation, be it in the gallery or elsewhere: to help us connect with what we’re seeing, care about it, and thereby open up to learning about it. http://www.moma.org/explore/multimedia/videos/37/272
Yet all too often, visitors complain that audio tours give them this sort of experience: http://geschiedenis.vpro.nl/themasites/mediaplayer/index.jsp?media=19799217&refernr=19265092&portalnr=4158511&hostname=geschiedenis&mediatype=video&portalid=geschiedenis Although this video shows an example of one of the earliest tour technologies from the 1960s, excavated by Loic Tallon, the perception of audio tours is that they are not terribly different today in terms of inspiring a herd mentality among users, producing crowding around exhibits and a sort of dumbed-down, one-size-fits-all experience. All the issues that have plagued audio tours throughout their history are visible here: The linearity of the tour lead to a herd-mentality among visitors and crowding around exhibits In addition the challenges of: Hygiene: led to one of the earliest audio tour technology debates: headphones vs wands? Distribution issues always a challenge, but complexity also driven by technology choices, including the headphones or wand choice Very homogenous audience
Another way to represent this is as a multi-tiered architecture with up to three kinds of content: 1. -+-+-+-+-+ The Soundtrack 2. o o o o o The Soundbites 3. / | / | / Links
http://wiki.museummobile.info/museums-to-go/architecture One way to look at soundtrack and soundbites is through the ways they’re delivered to the end user. Soundtracks, being longer audio or even video pieces, tend to be downloaded and played back from local memory on the player. Soundbites are shorter and generally very focused in their message, so with good metadata they are more easily made searchable or associated with specific object records, for example.
http://wiki.museummobile.info/museums-to-go/architecture/soundtracks Reading the curator’s intention Keys to understanding the exhibition/display in its entirety Faster than reading (usually stops are slower than reading)
What I like about this soundtrack, in which Nicholas Serota discusses Tate Moderns’ 2008 exhibition of work by Cy Twombly during its installation: http://www.tate.org.uk/tateshots/episode.jsp?item=16074 Given by the curator: visitors always like hearing from the expert, as long as s/he speaks relatively well! He gives us an overview with basic tools to understand Twombly’s work, both in this exhibition and beyond. He gives us a behind-the-scenes view, insight into what curation and the work of the museum is all about.
http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artwork/?id=13831 Museums are very good at soundbites: the wall label can be seen as a very basic, text-based soundbite. Although writing for the ear or video is not the same as writing for a label or catalogue, it is not such a huge task for museum staff to gain these skills and be able to produce good quality scripts for stops in-house. By contrast, you want a good storyteller writing your soundtracks if you don’t have someone as eloquent ‘off-the-cuff’ as Nicholas Serota!
An example from an SFMOMA podcast. Like the Tate soundtrack, starts with an introduction and overview of the exhibition, followed by a couple of stops that take us into depth on specific objects. http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?i=34481103&id=79896290
Nancy Proctor [email_address] 4 August 2009 Podcasting 101 For the Clarice Smith National Teacher Institute Smithsonian American Art Museum August 3-7, 2009 http://claricesmithamericanarted.ning.com/